Facing an uproar, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has backtracked on his comments about “extreme conservatives” not having a place in the state.
Cuomo sparked a backlash on Friday when the Democrat attacked as “extreme conservatives” Republican candidates “who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay.” He added, “[I]f that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”
With the remarks getting national attention, Cuomo’s office posted two letters — both directed to the New York Post — on the governor’s official website. The letters attempt to clarify his remarks and quell a controversy that flared again yesterday as talk-show hosts Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck weighed in.
On his radio show, Hannity delivered a stern message to Cuomo:
Governor Cuomo, I’m going to leave [New York] and I’m taking all of my money with me — every single, solitary penny. And by the way, Governor, because I work here, there’s a whole bunch of people that work for me and benefit because I do two shows. And I guess maybe some of them will be out of work, Governor. I’m sure you’ll take care of them.
The first letter, an unsigned “open letter to the New York Post,” states that “it is clear that the Governor was making the observation that an extreme right candidate cannot win statewide because this is a politically moderate state (either moderate Republican or moderate Democratic). In the same response, the Governor went on to say ‘it is fine’ to be anti-gun control, and anti-choice – as he respects both positions.”
The second letter, signed by Mylan Denerstein, counsel to the governor, takes aim at New York Post columnist Fred Dicker and reads in part:
As we approach the political season we expect the campaign dialogue to become more heated on both sides. We understand the New York Post is an opinionated newspaper and that Fred Dicker is an extreme conservative. However responsibility must not be forsaken.
Dicker’s story that the Governor said Conservatives have no place in New York is unfair, false and the exact opposite of what his tenure as Attorney General and his state administration has been all about.
The Governor has never demonized the opposition to his gun law nor stance [sic] on protecting choice nor marriage equality. The Governor is a gun owner and a Catholic. His faith is very important to him and he respects the Second Amendment. …The Governor’s main principle for New York State is tolerance of different opinions, races, sexual orientation, and religion.
Fred Dicker has angered many with what has been reported as “hateful” comments but the Governor would be the first to defend Dicker’s right to express his views and believes the diversity of opinion is one of New York State’s greatest assets.
The Governor was making the point that he makes often: New York is a politically moderate state and an extremist agenda is not politically viable statewide. New York has a long history of electing Democrats and Republicans statewide who are moderate rather than on the extreme ends of the political spectrum.
As the debate plays out in New York, pro-life activists plan to use tomorrow’s March for Life in Washington, DC, to highlight Cuomo’s comments.